Why Being a Sheep is a Good Thing

There’s some sort of temporary brain damage that takes place in your teenage years.  As hormones race through your body, you find yourself fixed in the center of your own galaxy that most certainly revolves around you. You also have no idea what it takes for a parent to deal with you, or have a clue to as how absolutely clueless you are.

Can I get a witness?

At some point in your early twenties you emerge from this adolescent coma, only to realize that your parents weren’t complete idiots after all and that they had more wisdom than you gave them credit for. It’s humbling.

Sheep on pasture

That same humility is going to be needed if we’re going to be able to recognize and follow the good shepherd. Let’s hear from Jesus himself.

John 10:1–18 (ESV)

10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus aptly calls himself “The Good Shepherd”; contrasting himself with the thief and robber.  The Shepherd comes in at the designed point of entry. This is his pen and these are his sheep. It’s not breaking and entering when it’s your house.

A thief has to find a corrupt way in. He has no key. The shepherd on the other hand has authoritative access from the father (the gatekeeper). When Jesus shows up in our lives he doesn’t need to kick down the door. He knows the way in; he has the key to our hearts.

Jesus doesn’t just have access; he has the authentic voice we’ve been waiting for.

I use to spend my summers on my grandpa’s farm. He raised cattle and I’d join him each day as his “hired hand.” I was amazed as I watched him lean out of his beat up blue Ford truck and call in the cattle from the field when it was feeding time yelling, “HiiiiiOOOO Cattle!” and they’d come running.

Finally, after watching this day after day I asked my grandfather, if I could try it. I began to wave my cowboy hat and yell “HiiiiiOOOO Cattle!” in my high pitched grade school voice only to watch the cattle barely acknowledge my existence; then go back to chewing their grass. They knew his voice and his alone.

Jesus eludes to religious robbers that try to lure the sheep away with religious sounding truths, but the sheep recognize the authentic voice of the shepherd when they hear it. Just like the voice of my grandfather to those cattle. To the sheep, the shepherd’s voice is the sound of food, safety, and life!

Time and time again it’s referenced in scripture that many that heard Jesus speak recognized that they were hearing something different than they’d heard from other religious leaders. Jesus spoke with a love and authority they hadn’t experienced. That’s because up to this point they’d been dealt with harshly by these “hired hands” that “laid burdens on them.”

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He not only has authority and authenticity; he sees himself as accountable for the sheep. Jesus makes the case that he alone can be trusted unlike the others. It’s with him alone that they’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

The hired hand has no skin in the game, he’s simply out for himself. The shepherd has a vested life interest in his flock. So much so that he lays down his life for them unlike the hired hands that cut and run when danger strikes. Jesus became the lamb of God that took away the sins of the world by way of the cross so that He might be our good chief shepherd!

Until we see ourselves as sheep, we’ll never realize our need for a shepherd.

Everyone talks about the importance of good leadership, but no one wants to talk about followership.

The term follower has gotten a bad rap in our nation. In a country that prides itself on independence, making it on your own, pulling yourself up by your boot straps, the idea of being a follower is seen as beneath us.

In fact, I tell my kids every morning, “Be a leader.”

Yet, I’ve come to realize that until my sons first become great followers of Jesus, sheep being led by the good shepherd; they’ll never know how to lead other sheep toward Jesus.

Humility is the first step toward life changing followership.

Before we lead we must learn to follow.

The good shepherd stands at the door and waits. Will we turn and follow or go back to eating our grass?